ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — A lone gay rights activist was confronted by a group of Russian paratroopers in St. Petersburg, Russia on Friday as he waved a gay pride banner in direct violation of the country’s anti-gay “propaganda” laws.
Kirill Kalugin, whose banner read “This is propagating tolerance,” was quickly surrounded by the group of Russian service members who had gathered in the central city square to celebrate Russian Airborne Troops Day, an annual military pride celebration.
“We do not agree with this and ask you to stop this sort of action and your one-man picket,” one of the paratroopers (in blue and white striped shirts), according to a translation of the event by the website Animal New York.
“What the fuck were you thinking, showing up at Palace Square, faggot?” one of the military members yelled as the confrontation escalated.
When police arrived, the soldiers moved closer, blocking their access and pushing them away while one soldier chokes Kalugin and shakes him by his neck.
As police tried to remove Kalugin, the soldiers started shoving them and throwing punches, before encircling the the police vehicle. One soldier can been seen attempting to get into the police cruiser and drag Kalugin out, yelling, “Why are you defending him?!”
Watch the video, from PaperPaper.ru:
The incident underscores the growing anti-LGBT sentiments in Russia, which has led to a rise in anti-gay violence.
Russia recently approved controversial legislation that seeks to ban the “promotion of non-traditional sexual relationships,” while still insisting that gays have the same rights as other people. A Kremlin statement said that measure is intended to guarantee children a “harmonious” upbringing and protect them from “complexes, emotional suffering and stress.
President Vladimir Putin signed the bill into law on June 30.
Article continues belowIn the past four months, there have been several homophobic-fueled attacks on pro-gay rallies in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and two men have been killed in attacks motivated by anti-gay bias.
Last week, LGBTQ Nation reported on a network of loosely organized groups of Russian ultra-nationalists who are targeting LGBT youth for bullying and assault by creating fake social media profiles and gay personals to lure unsuspecting victims to meeting places, where they are then harassed, brutally beaten, humiliated and forced to perform sexual acts with inanimate objects.
An opinion poll by the Russian pollster firm Levada earlier this spring found that only 12 percent of Russians polled considered homosexuality as normal sexual behavior equal to heterosexual relations.